Potpies, which in their most common form are simple stews of meat or poultry and vegetables baked inside a pastry crust, have a winsome, all-American air about them. But they're actually an evolution of the freestanding meat pies once so popular in medieval cookery. From the Middle Ages through the 1600s and beyond, women all over Europe arranged their grains, vegetables, and occasional bits of meat inside sturdy crusts that they would carry to the town's communal oven for baking. In the baronial kitchens of England, cooks loaded tremendous pastry crusts with minced pork, veal, chicken, rabbit, and venison.
The English brought their pie-making enthusiasm with them to the New World, where hearty pies of deer, rabbit, and wild herbs helped sustain thousands of new arrivals in the perilous fledgling colonies until vegetable crops could be planted. Settlers brought chickens with them to Jamestown in 1607, and the birds multiplied with biblical force. Their tough hearts, gizzards, and livers were chopped, liberally seasoned, and baked in pastry crusts made from flour, water, and lard: a dubious, early American rendition of chicken potpie.
Get this recipe for Chicken Potpie with Puff Pastry.